Workers of the world

Submitted by Matthew on 19 August, 2010 - 3:25 Author: Ira Berkovic

Ukranian mineworkers employed by Ferrexpo PLC, one of the biggest ore mining companies in the world, have struck against changes to their contracts which would, amongst other attacks, increase their retirement age by 5 years and cut 10 days from their holiday entitlement.

Ferrexpo is notorious for cutting corners and endangering workers' safety in order to keep profits up; truckers working for the company were told to break the legal speed limit in order to fill quotas on time, and the working day was increased from 8 to 12 hours. The strike's demands include an increase of wages by at least 50% and the lowering of daily and monthly output quotas to fit the safety requirements and actual human abilities.

• For more information, including information on how to send protest letters to Ferrexpo bosses and solidarity messages to the miners, visit tinyurl.com/ukraineminers

Bangladesh

Millions of garment workers in Bangladesh, one of the world's centres for sweatshop textile production, have struck against poverty pay.

Apparel makes up the vast majority of Bangladesh's exports; the country is such an attractive prospect for textile industry bosses because its minimum wage, just 12 cents/hour, is one of the lowest in the world. Although the government has promised an increase to $43/month, this is not enough to match recent increases in food prices. Striking workers are demanding an increase to $72/month.

The response from bosses and security forces has been fierce, with leading union organisers victimised and threatened. One workers' leader, Aminul Islam, was detained and tortured until he signed a statement confessing to “inciting worker unrest.”

• For more info, see tinyurl.com/labourstartbangladesh

Pakistan

Power loom workers in Faisalabad, one of Pakistan's major industrial cities, have won a huge victory following a massive strike. Many employers refused to enforce new government legislation increasing private sector pay by 17%, so when factory bosses missed the deadline for delivering the increase 250,000 workers in Faisalabad walked out.

Their strike sparked protest actions in Lahore and elsewhere in the country. Following a week-long strike, which saw over 100 workers arrested, bosses eventually caved and delivered the 17% increase. The strike is part of a growing pattern of working-class militancy across Pakistan which will continue to develop as workers assert themselves against ruling-class attempts to keep them at the sharp end of economic, social and environmental crises.

• For more info, see the Labour Party of Pakistan's report at tinyurl.com/24kwwck

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